The Gifted Library Table

I’ve had this table for over a year and somehow, I’ve never told you about it.

A year and a half ago my mom and I pulled up to a yard sale and saw the gloriousness that was this aged table sitting on the sidewalk, we were both giddy with excitement but contained ourselves because furniture always sells within the first five minutes at yard sales.  We were sure this piece had been sold.

Or maybe not.  Ninety dollars at a yard sale is a lot.  And it became clear that this table was much loved.  Here’s the note that was taped to it.

At the end of the yard sale day {that’s 12 noon to normal folk} my mom and dad drove back over to that sale.   When they got there, the table was still sitting there all forlorn.  Mom got to know the owner and ended up coming home with the table.  It turns out, more than money, the owners of that table were looking for someone who would appreciate a bit of their history.  They loved the table but didn’t have room for it and they didn’t want to just give it to someone who wouldn’t adore it.  My mom vowed that the table would be loved and cared for and beautified for years.  I think my mom and this table have a recognized marriage in seven states.  Mom paid $30 for the table and gave it directly to me for my upcoming birthday.

Such a beautiful, meaningful gift.  This library table doesn’t hold stories, it tells them.  It means so much more to me knowing that it has a history, it was much loved, and that my mom knew I would enjoy it.

It makes me wonder if I’m holding on to something in my house purely because of sentiment, even if it doesn’t bring me joy, or I don’t have room for it.  After getting this table, I’m much more open to passing on once loved items that we no longer need or use to someone that I know would really enjoy them.  I think the table looks very happy.

Have you been on the receiving end of a gift like this?

Have you gifted something to someone who appreciated it so much that it felt like a gift to you to give?


  1. I love that table! So pretty :)

  2. What a lovely table… and a beautiful story.

  3. Your library table is beautiful! It also has two great stories – the original owners and now yours! I have received many things over the years from my Mom and Grandmother and feel a special connection to these things. It is funny how even the smallest things become more inportant when there is a memory associated with them. I love being able to look around my home as it is a constant reminder of the special people in my life, places I have visited and special times I have shared.

  4. I loved this table from the first glimpse you gave us a while back – it had lots of little plants on it then. Love it when the pieces in my home have a story!

  5. That table is gorgeous! And I am so nosy and can’t figure out where that is sitting in your house? Also, really love the pink pillow and the glass pieces sitting on the table.

  6. I have a story. A few years ago, we were fixing up our first home: a teeny-tiny cottage on a hill in Connecticut. It was very charming, but it needed a lot of work. Money was tight. We had been saving up to replace the futon in our front room (bought at an unfinished wood store, finished ourselves) with an actual couch. Before we had enough to make that purchase, we fell in love with a gorgeous color of red (Valspar’s Cabin Red) and painted the front room red. That’s right, we painted the room RED before shopping for furniture. At long last, we decided we had enough saved for a living room set ($700, we were sooooo naive) and went shopping. It quickly dawned on us that things in our price range just weren’t what we wanted. It also dawned on us that it was not going to be easy to find a piece that would match our already red room.

    I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed. We did not have–nor did we want to spend–thousands of dollars on furniture. Then, a little miracle occurred. One of my friends drove by the home of another friend. Friend #2 had grown tired of her front room set. She had just taken it to the curb. Friend #1 couldn’t stand seeing perfectly good furniture on the curb. She took it home to her garage. And that’s where I saw it, and screamed, “Where did you get this?” Friend #1 realized the set could have a happy home with me, and by the end of the day, my red room had become its new home–where the red stripe in the set’s upholstery was, believe it or not, Cabin Red.

    The lovely living room set that was headed for the curb is going to stay in my house for a long, long time. It’s very well made furniture, with gorgeous lines. The upholstery has held up incredibly well. I’m not crazy about the pattern in it, but that can be easily solved with a slipcover or by reupholstering.

    To add to the miracle, not only did we LOVE the furniture, but there was a good reason for us not to spend that $700. Soon after the free furniture came to live with us, our baby was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. We spent a lot of time at the hospital for a while, and had some big bills. We were so grateful for what we had available in our savings!

    So I’ve learned my lesson: you never know how a gift will bless someone’s life. Now, when we can, we try to give away the things that we’re replacing.

    Enjoy your beautiful table!

  7. Thank you for sharing the story of your library table. I love it and all its rich patina! I feel the same way about my special pieces; I feel so much better when they go to another home that will appreciate them. Whenever I am shopping at estate/rummage sales I let the sellers know that I will cherish their piece as much as they do, too! Would make a great desk, too, with the hidden inner leaf. Wonderful find!

  8. That is a lovely table – and an even lovelier story!

    There are a few things from my grandmother’s house that I wanted for the story I knew was attached to them and for the memories I had with them – not for their monetary value. Unfortunately… I accidentally angered the executor of the estate (my aunt), a woman easily angered, and didn’t get much of anything. At least I’ll be able to enjoy most of those things in the homes of other family members and mostly I’m glad that after about 6 months of trying I was able to reconcile my tenuous relationship with my aunt.

  9. LOVE this Library table and thrilled you shared the story with us!
    I have been on the receiving end of such a gift, a very old hand carved claw footed quilt rack. My friend had it in her home and I fell in LOVE with it the moment I seen it. We had known each other only a short time, but had become close in that time. I offered to purchase this piece from her as she said it did not go well with her things…I have LOTS of antique furniture from flea market finds in Europe. Well even though she said it didn’t go well, she wasn’t ready to part with it either!!! Then came the day my husband got orders for our next duty station (Army)…the packers came to pack our home and here came my friend with that Quilt rack in toe…She said to me if she were going to get rid of it, she knew it was to ME as I would Love it as she did and she Loved me!!! I have since payed it forward with a piece I no longer was happy with and knew another friend would treasure. The quilt rack will forever remain in my home!!!

  10. How sweet and what a beautiful table. Looks quite at home.

  11. What a beautiful table with a beautiful history behind it!

  12. Beautiful story! I love that the sellers found someone to love their table.

    My story isn’t about a piece of furniture. When DH and I were just dating, and he was nearing graduation and started casting out resumes, we started buying things for our future home somewhere that was in a yet to be defined city. We weren’t living together at the time, and he hadn’t formally asked me to move with him, it just was a given. On Black Friday of that year we did the crazy Best Buy thing(our first BF shopping expedition,) and bought an enormous(at the time) 35″ tv. We stored it in my parents’ garage until the move. We had that tv through 2 moves and 2 kids. Bigger, flatter tvs came around and we hung on to it. 2yrs ago it was time to upgrade to a larger flat panel tv. We brought the 35″ and it’s stand to an afterschool program run by the city’s gang-prevention unit. They were playing video games on a little 20″ tv. The kids were jumping up and down as we brought the new equipment in. We knew our first Black Friday purchase together would be loved and appreciated by those and future kids.

    Thanks for sharing and letting me take a trip down memory lane.

  13. I was on the other side….I was “given” an entire house full of furniture (abandoned for the most part by my family). It was difficult sorting the good pieces from the not so good but I was extremely thankful that I didn’t have to spend and arm and a leg on furniture when we didn’t have the money to do so. I’ll admit none of the pieces have had a long family history but there’s one piece that I love. It’s a desk (pine? oak? not sure) that my mom hand paint tole flowers all over. It was my desk growing up and while it isn’t elegant the flowers make me smile. My mom had painted those tole flowers all over the house (on the walls, furniture, etc) and now I only have this piece as a reminder of my childhood.

    I know the general feeling these days is to lighten our load- so to speak- and get rid of stuff. However, I do think it’s okay to keep things for sentimental reasons as well (just not everything!). Just my opinion!

  14. Christine Aldinger says

    i have so many things passed on to me because my family knows i love our history and i love to collect….my worry now is as i get order i wonder what will happen to these things, so far my children have no interest and i have things that go back to my great grandparents….would break my heart if these memories that i have cherished for yrs do not stay in the family…

  15. 2 years ago at Easter my beloved aunt asked if I’d like a side-board she was thinking of getting rid of. She took me to her storage room and there was the most beautiful antique side board with a curvy body, aged brass handles, an petite legs. I swooned. She was going to donate this?? It was in impeccable condition!! I said yes to it immediately and we made plans for transport in the near future. 2 weeks later my aunt (I married her nephew) was diagnosed with cancer and left us 3 weeks later. It was a most heartbreaking and tumultuous time for everyone, especially her husband of over 30 years. Just days after her passing our uncle brought the sideboard over to our house, along with a Tiffany lamp that she’d also loved. My heart broke and soared at the same time. The piece and the lamp are stunning and perfect and hold a place of honor in our hallway – the first thing anyone seems when entering our home. I think of her every time I pass by the table. It tugs at my heart and makes me remember the beautiful woman Janis was and always will be in my memory.

  16. I too found a library table with a story. It was found in an old neighborhood in our town and had originally been used at an old university that had closed. The owner was a minister who taught at that school and could not take the table along for the move. He enjoyed talking with my husband so much that he sent us an email thanking us again for buying the table and said that he hoped that we would enjoy it as much as his family had.

    I love anything with a story!

  17. Great story! I always want to hold onto things because of sentimental reasons. This inspires me to pass loved things on. :)

  18. I love the note that was taped to it! It makes it feel personal and loved.

  19. What a gorgeous table! I love that it and your mom have a recognized marriage in at least SOME states!
    When my grandmother passed (my grandfather was already gone), I inherited a wardrobe and side table (that has a top that turns) that were made for them as wedding gifts in 1927. I love them so much. From my other grandmother I inherited a “hope chest” that was made in the mid-1800’s (my grandmother’s family was Pennsylvania Dutch) and put together entirely with dovetails and wooden “nails.” It was repaired in the early 1900’s with square nails. It is a simple, but beautiful and meaningful piece. My mom is actually holding them for me until James Bond retires and we no longer lead the vagabond military life, as the movers are often very rough on furniture and I’d be devastated if something happened to any of them. Every time I go to my mom’s house I stroke them longingly and tell them that one day they’ll get to live with me and be loved again.
    For my birthday this year, my mom bought an antique crystal punch bowl and 24 crystal cups for me from a much elderly neighbor who is moving to FL to retire. They bought it in 1940 at an estate sale for $150 (a small fortune in 1940) and it was well over 100 years old then. I’ve only seen photos of it, but I promised her I would absolutely enjoy it and use it as often as possible. She said she was so happy to know it was going to someone who would appreciate it.
    BTW, if you come over to my blog, you can see some cutie pie photos of Han Solo, who made his grand appearance on April 4, a few weeks ahead of his due date. :)

  20. wow, i love the table!

    and that turqoise-tint glass on top – whew! gorgeous.

  21. That is a gorgeous table and a heartwarming story. If I were that lady I could never have parted with it. I’m glad it went o someone who appreciates it and what it represents.

  22. beautiful table… just love it! all it needs is a big huge chunky old dictionary open on it… then I think it would be complete…lol

  23. Looks like such a beautiful table! Wish a had one just like it!

  24. I love that squiggly branch of dried leaves in the vase!

  25. I have a table JUST like yours! I bought it over a year ago for cheap on CL with the intention of refinishing it. It didn’t come with a warm fuzzy story – I’m actually still trying to forget the creepy guy I bought it from! After seeing yours – I am so motivated to give this table my OWN story!! Thank you for sharing.

  26. I love this post. Just going through this now. I sold a full set of Wedgwood China that belonged to my mother in law. (We have multiple full sets of various china patterns so do not cry for us) When the people who bought it came to pick it up, we held our breath….. would it be a young, newly married couple who would cherish it or would it be a dealer who would promptly turn around and sell it on Ebay. To our surprise it was a sweet young couple from New Orleans who had many heirlooms destroyed in Katrina. They were longing to start their collection back up and loved the pattern. PS- we gave them a really good deal (like my mother-in-law is rolling around in her grave right now deal) Would much rather have someone who will love and appreciate the history in an item.

  27. whata lovely table. I love the story about it being saved from a condemned building. Wonderful! I have several pieces that we aquired after my Grandfathers passing that are very sentimental to me. I love the fact that as a child I remembered seeing them in his home, and now seeing them in mine is both comforting and special, as it reminds me of him.

  28. A couple of years ago at my first craft fair a woman walked by and saw the table I had some of my stuff on. She immediately asked to buy the table. I told her it wasn’t for sale and even though she persisted my husband and I both emphatically told her, “No!” See, that table had been mine since I was in high school. Before that it had been in my grandmother’s house, and before that I don’t know where it came from. When I look at it it reminds me of my Mimmie and Granddaddy, and never ceases to put a smile on my face. It’s not finished, and it has nicks and stains on it, but I think it’s beautiful because it was theirs. I will never get rid of it. :)

  29. Yes! I have been selling some items on craigslist and I so love seeing these adorable woman come fall in love with it! Makes it so worth letting go and easier to pass on.

  30. Isn’t it funny how we are even more inclined to things that have a story! I love the table, but hearing it’s history totally made me want it for myself. So sweet.

  31. Love this story and the thought provoking musings… I recently, FINALLY gave a settee to Goodwill that had no place in our current lifestyle or household, after leaving it in the garage for 2 years waiting for it to somehow magically make sense for us. It has undoubtedly already been snatched up by someone who saw the awesomeness in it that I did. And hopefully they haven’t banished it to their garage.

  32. NESTER,
    My gramma gave me her old egg baskets. My gramma never held a “job in her life, her husband, kids and grandkids were her career. the closest employment she had was selling eggs to neighbors and the bakery. I can’t help seeing her carry in the eggs. The wire basket legs are worn from setting them down on the cement basement floor to keep the eggs cool before they were washed and packed.

    I also wanted her red and white enamel bread bowl that was also used for popcorn.


  33. We got the sofa in our home now from my mother in law! She bought a new one and gave us her much beloved one, in near perfect condition. This was big for her since she hates change and departing with her pieces! To this day when she stays to visit she sleeps on this couch as opposed to our guest bedroom. Talk about marriage in 7 states!!

  34. I have a beautiful old wooden flat file from a business where my step-father once worked. They were renovating their offices and wanted the flashy new metal cabinets. When they offered him one of the old flat files he brought it to me. It makes a wonderful coffee table and a great conversation piece.

    I love it even more because it has a history. And I love your library table!

  35. A library table!!!! That’s what that thing is!!!! I have a table very similar to yours and could never figure out what to call it or what it would have been used as in its former life. I bought ours on our honeymoon and love it very much.

  36. Yes Ma’am!! I have some gorgeous pillows and an awesome basket that holds hand made quilts. Oh; and this big stump that “we” loaded up together and I use as a side table. :)

  37. And regarding an item that I gifted: An old Devotional Bible (no longer in print) when we were selling to move into the RV. I gave it to a friend that had been eyeing it for years. Her face lit up and it made me wonder why I hadn’t gifted her with it sooner.

  38. Yes, my Mom gave me a hope chest for my eighteenth birthday and with all of its nicks and flaws, I love it and it will always sit at the end of my bed. Today I received a gift of books in the mail from my sister….maybe I will give something away to bless someone I love!!! Thanks!

  39. The desk I’m sitting at right now actually falls into that category. I was looking for a small secretary desk so that I would have a place to work while my baby played in the living room. Since my desk needed to be in the living room something that I could close up was essential as was a small footprint because we don’t have a ton of space. Everything I could find was WAY out of my price range until I saw one listed on Craigslist that just squeaked in under budget. I called and it was still available so my husband, daughter and I drove out to take a look. Turns out the woman who was selling it had used it as her desk when her kids were little too, but no longer had a use for it. When she realized I was in the same boat she had been and didn’t have exact change (I’d hit the ATM on the way over) she dropped the price for me. The finish is far from perfect, but it is still a beautiful desk and fits my needs perfectly. I love my little desk and am forever grateful to the woman who sold it to me.

  40. Last fall, I went to a yard sale at Lake Park and saw this beautiful handmade bunny tassel with a Nester tag on it. I had mistakenly read the price tag on it and didn’t realize that I coldnt’ afford it until it was time to pay. Sadly enough, I needed to put it back, but then a sweet girl named Nester gave it to me!
    I have that beautiful bunny tassel hanging on my newly painted armoire in the living room. Every time I look at it I think about your generosity. It is a continuous reminder for me to bless others the way you so blessed me that day. Thank you Nester! I am looking forward to my first Easter with my bunny.

  41. We purchased an antique dresser from someone on Craigslist. They were loathe to part with it as it had belonged to the wife’s deceased grandfather. It had moved across the country many years before. Inside the top drawer is scratched his social security number. It’s in beautiful condition and we assured them we would take good care of it and it lovingly holds my linens.

  42. I know what you mean. I think I bought these hats from a yeard sale because of the sweet story this lady told about her 99 year old daddy.

  43. I usually end up buying things I do not need at all at yard sales, exactly because I cannot stand the idea that things, which meant something to people shall be thrown away. The result is that my home is full of old books that nobody around here really reads, just because I felt I needed to save them at the time.

  44. It’s downright gorgeous! My parents have a library table that I’ve always loved. It’s been everything from a plant stand to a fabric cutting table to (now) the centerpiece of Mom’s studio). I would love to have one of my own.

  45. I am the family “caretaker” of a small (maybe a little over 5 feet tall) Tennessee cherry secretary. Even as a child I had admired it; it has tiny shelves and drawers…but best of all, the doors on the inside of the secretary have the original marks from an axe. It took the place of honor in my parents’ home, and unfortunately I don’t have much on the history of the piece. But it now has its’ place of honor in my very small home, and I hope that my children and grandchildren will cherish it as much as I do!

  46. I’m in love with that story, and the former owners for their graciousness. Too often you see owners hawking their wares in expensive antique stores to make a profit from grandma’s old china cabinet — which she lovingly polished every day with her blood, sweat, and tears because it was the most expensive thing that her husband ever gave her, and they couldn’t really afford it but he just knew she’d love it…

    Sorry, I’m rambling. It makes me sick to think of all the hard work and time that went into maintaining a beautiful piece of something (Great-Aunt Lucille’s handmade quilts, for instance) that ends up going down the drain because the owners didn’t think about the people who would have cherished a gift like this. I digress.

    In my case, the story isn’t about a relative’s estate. A few months ago, my Aunt Bev (aka, Grandma’s best friend as a girl) and I were speaking about my search for a small desk to use in my apartment. Her husband (aka Uncle Rex) heard this, said, “hey, why don’t I build you one?”, and a week later, presented it to me in all its amazing glory (did I mention that he’s 82?). I was flabbergasted that he would have spent so much time building something for me, when I wasn’t even a “true” relative, just because he believed in me enough to know I would cherish it. I’m turning 20 Friday, but most of the time I feel like I’m still pretending to be an adult. Giving me my first piece of “adult” furniture made me feel so proud that those wonderful people see maturity in me, even when I don’t. They’re a blessing, and the world needs more people like them.

    So, long story short, I’m very, very glad that you posted this. It made my morning, and made me appreciate generous people. :)

    – Jess

  47. this is one of those “meant to be” garage sale finds. i had a similar one a while back. you can read about it here:

    sometimes the story ends up being better than the bargain.

    i LOVE your table. it has great lines and it’s so versatile.

  48. i feel love and love is life

  49. When the old lady across the road ( who was also a member of our congregation) died when I was about 13, her bachelor son let me choose a couple of things. I chose a dinner setting with a gold edge and blue flowers and a large trunk. Both of which I still have and love more than 20 years later.

    Nester, would you be so good as to show us how it unfolds? I have a lovely turned leg base which needs a new top and I want to do a fold out expanding top but have only seen a simple fold over and turn style. I’m intrigued how 3 leaves work.

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